The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Photo credit: Nick Shockey / nshockey.express@gmail.com
A letter from the editor
February 6, 2024

The wizard (and archivist) of City College; Caroline Harker guards records in Special Collections

City+College+archivist+Caroline+Harker+has+proudly+maintained+and+preserved+City+College+items+of+historical+significance+for+four+years.+Vanessa+S.+Nelson+%7C+vanessanelsonexpress%40gmail.com
City College archivist Caroline Harker has proudly maintained and preserved City College items of historical significance for four years. Vanessa S. Nelson | [email protected]
City College archivist Caroline Harker has proudly maintained and preserved City College items of historical significance for four years. Vanessa S. Nelson | vanessanelsonexpress@gmail.com
City College archivist Caroline Harker has proudly maintained and preserved City College items of historical significance for four years. Vanessa S. Nelson | [email protected]

A wizard is only as powerful as her wand. When there is a need to protect what she loves, a wizard will use her wand and knowledge of magic to keep her treasures alive. For Caroline Harker, being responsible for the history and preservation of the past is a heavy task she is willing to protect and preserve.

Harker, 55, is the City College archivist. The room where she keeps the past alive is titled the Special Collections room on the third floor of the Learning Resource Center. Wielding a pencil in one hand, and a passion to share in the other, Harker welcomes students to come to her to gather any and all information about the college and its history.

“I’ve never been to that area before,” said Tiffany Howe, a City College criminal justice major.

Like Howe, many students have not been to the Special Collections room and have not had the opportunity to meet Harker or the treasures she has to offer. With a nod to Harry Potter, she guards the powerful horcrux objects in her room, such as City College’s Pioneer yearbook, which dates from 1923–1980.

At her big wooden desk, Harker has the ability to search through her ample archives of Express newspapers, dating from 1922 to the present. Wide-eyed and still clutching her pencil, Harker waves it from right to left like a wand as she outlines the details of the tasks that enchant her daily life. From working with the California Audiovisual Preservation Project, transferring old cassette recordings of past teacher exit interviews to maintaining photos of the school and its students, she is the keeper of campus treasures.

Harker recites her mission: “To protect and preserve the items.”

As Harker uses her pencil to point to the poster boards on her left and some of the historical pieces to her right, she details how students are always welcome to come into this sacred room, but there are precautions. The Special Collections Room is not for browsing, nor is it a study room for students to finish classwork. The beauty of the Special Collections room is in the history it holds.

Just as Harry Potter’s Hogwarts has policies and rules in place to protect the school and its students, City College has policies in place that Harker enforces to protect its history for future students and community members. Nothing can leave the wooden chamber where the archives are kept, because there is no way to replace anything that may go missing. To keep old yearbooks and newspapers protected, there are gloves she keeps for researchers to use.

Harker resembles a modern-day wizard as she tells the story of how she became the campus archivist. For five years now, Harker says she has been responsible for the preservation of City College history since her predecessor, Patricia Zuccaro, retired. Zuccaro originally set up the archives.

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Although Harker continued to work for WIC, where she has worked for 15 years, her passion led her to spend Friday afternoons through an internship researching grants and opportunities for the library to grow. The internship turned into a job.

Now part of Harker’s library magic is her invisibility.

“She pretty much comes in and goes straight back there,” says Becky Boyd, a City College librarian. “I sometimes don’t even see her when she comes in.”

As if equipped with an invisibility cloak, Harker walks to her corner room on the third floor of the LRC. However, that does not diminish the power, the pride she takes in her job. On top of keeping City College’s memories alive, she also is the person to go to when you are searching for answers about the school and for former students who attended.

“When in doubt, go to the library,” writes J.K. Rowling, British novelist, in her book “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.”

Many people do turn to the library, and Harker unearthed hundreds of treasures for professors researching the college’s 100th anniversary this year.

When people have questions about the college — its past or even the past of their own family members -— Harker’s diligence and determination help her magically locate the ancestors of students, alumni and community members who attended the college.

Harker considers herself very fortunate that those before her had the foresight to preserve the information she now protects.

City College students now have the fortune of a scholar on campus who has the ability to look deep into the college’s rich history and preserve it for future generations.

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